In the path of spirituality, and in life in general, we keep hearing one thing: be yourself. Be what you really are. And indeed, after it gets to us, we start trying really hard to be ourselves. But before that, have we wondered what we really are, let alone established it?
We have certain inclinations, tendencies, likes and dislikes. When we decide to be our true selves, we often start expressing all these traits more obviously. We like to say: “I am like this”, or “I like that”, “I hate this”, “I would never do that”, and so on. We also have a lot of habits, and we think it is important to stick to them if we want to be our true selves, as everything is pointing we should.
All those who know me know how much I love coffee. For every birthday I get at least one coffee-related item: a T-shirt with coffee-loving slogans, a coffee mug with a personalized message related to drowning in coffee, etc. Even people who do not know that well, know that curiosity about me. And it’s been like that for fifteen years or so. Not so long ago I got a medical recommendation to stop drinking coffee for six weeks, along with some other dietary advice and restrictions, all temporary. It first sounded like the end of the world. I have stopped drinking coffee once for a month, and it went okay, so I knew I could do it. But it was a long time ago, and I really wasn’t in the mood for such experiments at the moment. However, I decided that nothing should limit me, I should not depend on anything or anyone, and I could certainly survive six weeks without coffee if it was going to help improve my health. It’s been almost four months since I last had a sip of coffee. I have continued with the abstinence of my own free will since I realized I can do it, I feel no need to drink it, so why push it. A lot of people can hardly believe I still don’t drink coffee, and I myself am sometimes amazed. It felt the same when I stopped eating meat, and it’s been four years since then.
Another thing all my friends and acquaintances know about me is how much I love movement: I love being outside, especially in the sunshine, walking, I love travelling, just changing place and being free. When the lock-down started, everyone was asking how I was taking it, guess I would be going nuts and running in circles around my neighbourhood. To my own surprise, I have taken the movement restriction due to the pandemic with such peace and acceptance. During the lockdown, there was a period of whole seven days that I spent entirely in my apartment. Of my own will, since I did have the opportunity to go out during a certain period of the day. And I felt such peace, such tranquillity, such freedom.
Because our true freedom lies within us. If you need any outside factor to be free or to be happy, you will never be neither free nor happy.
What I’ve realized after all this is that you first need to be what you are not, in order to be yourself. It means you need to break your boundaries, your habits and patterns. Do not define yourself as this, or that, or anything. Do not say “I would never…”, “I could never….” The only thing you should never do is hurt any being, including yourself, in thoughts, words or actions. That is your only restriction. Everything else is yours to take, do and be.
So, try “not being yourself” for a while. Try to stop being what you think you are or what others think you are. My change may seem small and banal, but on the inside, it means a huge difference to me. It feels like unlocking another level of my being. Unlocking the chains, in any case. We hear it so much: transformation is the key indicator of spiritual growth. And transformation requires flexibility.
On the path of spirituality, you will also often come across the saying: You are all that. Indeed, you are. So, in order to be yourself, you need to be all that. Whatever you feel like, and don’t feel like. Whatever the others expect you to be and not expect you to be. Do not be afraid to go against the stream, but make sure one thing: do not go against the stream just because everyone else is going in the opposite direction. Because that is also a trap, and without you realizing it, your thoughts and actions are directed by the others, just in the opposite direction.
I often remember Siddhartha from the eponymous Hesse’s novel, and him going through all the levels of existence, from the very gross level of sensual pleasures to the most subtle ascetic, and beyond the ascetic level of existence, from a very secluded and restricted life of a rich prince to the life in complete poverty, but also in freedom. You need to taste all the flavours of this world in order to move to a different level. And you also need to find in yourself the strength to “spit out” a flavour, even if you really, really love it, because that is not why you are here and it may be preventing you from moving on, to a higher plane.
So, be yourself, be what you are, what you are not, be what you want, just do not limit yourself. And understand these words truly and deeply: you are all that.
Author: Tijana Sladoje, (1989, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), is a spiritual seeker who loves writing, photography, learning languages and travelling, while never forgetting that the most important trip is the journey within.
We keep hearing: be open, be available, be receptive, accept everything… And everyone. At times, it can be really difficult. Maybe you are not emotionally well, you wish to retreat and be on your own. Maybe you have grown a sort of revulsion towards the outside world due to your long and deep spiritual practice. You simply prefer being on your own, turned towards the inside. Which, indeed, is crucial. It is very difficult to remain focused on the inside world, to keep your inner peace, to stay balanced. So, you have come so far with it, i.e., so near to it. Then, what happens? You think you have reached your inner peace and now you can enjoy it on your own? Oh, you… The fun only starts now. It is time for juggling. Why? Because we are the bridges that connect so many people with each other, so many people with different ideas, the notions and ideas combine within us, nations, races, religions, mix and unite within us. And we need to present that to the world.
Remember, if you are caving in, closing yourself to other people, you are denying yourself valuable experiences which may lead you further in your spiritual quest, or in your life in general.
Of course, there are phases when we really need our peace and we should respect that as well. Use that as a period of recharging. But as you expand more and more, you will need those less and less.Still, sometimes (actually always) it’s necessary to get out of our comfort zone as it is the only way to move forward. So, you may be feeling drained, you may find interaction with other people tiring, you would maybe rather stay at home meditating. Try doing the opposite at least once in such a situation. See what happens. See how your energy changes, how your mood changes. Go out there and give the world your greatest love. Your best advice. Your funniest joke. The most useful piece of information. Meet that person who needs to meet exactly you. Or whom you really need to meet at this point.
Yes, it is difficult at times. It is a different type of struggle from trying to appease your mind, but it is the only true balance. After long years of working on yourself, after years of spiritual practice, you are able to keep your inner peace and balance. But if you can only keep it while on your own, have you really reached it. Consider all those years as a training session, a trial version. The true challenge for any spiritual seeker is to keep your inner space pure and undisrupted when you are surrounded by other people. By so many outside factors. It’s like you’ve been practicing to walk with a bucket full of water on your head without spilling it, but now you need to pour it into another bucket, without spilling again.
All the positive energy, all the love, all the purity we attain or contain are there to be shared. We are all gurus to ourselves, and to each other as well. That is why we need to stay available to people, to share what we have, most importantly our love and time. If someone reaches out, wishes to interact, asks for help, be there. Find all that patience you’ve been building up, all that love that’s been accumulating in you, and pour it out on people. Always go with that, and you’ll see that such interactions will no longer drain you.
It’s not easy. It’s a long process of first being there for ourselves. It is understandable we are not always able to be there for the others. But set the example. And the others will be there for you, then.
And same goes for you, you may be the gem in someone’s life, just what they needed at the right moment.
Talk to people. Meet people. Who knows how many people connect through you. You are the link. We all are. You help destinies fulfill. You are the link, but you also help dissolve the links in the chain of karma. Talk to people. Maybe they need to attend exactly the course you have just finished to move in the right direction in their lives. Maybe they need to travel to the place where you have just returned from in order to have some experience, and they never would have thought of that place if you hadn’t mentioned.
The Universe works through us. The energy flows just where it needs to go. Don’t block it. Don’t put the barriers. Let life happen through you. That’s why we are all here. Don’t close yourself. Maybe you are someone’s only bridge to some phase in their life. Okay, definitely not the only one since Universe works in mysterious ways, and always finds a path, but maybe the fastest and the safest crossing.
Keep that in mind. Every detail in our life has its purpose and can take us further on our quest. So be the bridge. Just don’t let anyone ever double cross you. ?
Author: Tijana Sladoje
Seeker: What Is The Purpose Of Life?
Swami Rama: The purpose of life is to know yourself at every level. The obstacles that may arise from the physical level of your being can be prevented by living in a holistic manner: eating a balanced diet, practicing yogic exercises, regulating the four primitive urges – eating, sleeping, sex and self-preservation – and going to bed and waking up on schedule.
But after knowing the dynamics of physical well-being and securing it, you come to realize that true happiness does not come from the body: happiness is the creation of the mind. An unhealthy body can create obstacles to achieving peace and happiness, but a healthy body contributes very little to happiness. It is the mind which has to be made healthy, which has to be disciplined and brought under control. Breadth is the key to accomplishing this.
A human being is neither body nor mind alone: a human being is also a breathing being. The body and the mind are held together with the power of the Pranic force, and breadth is the major manifestation of that force. As long as people are breathing they are alive, because the breath creates a link between body and mind. The breath works like a customs officer, registering everything that us exported and imported from either side. According to the Upanishads, the breath is like a queen bee.
The degree of health and physical strength you gain by following a holistic lifestyle can be refined and advanced by practicing Pranayama. And when seekers are advanced enough to do this, they have the ability to notice subtler causes of disturbances that arise directly from the mind. This is when they must make a commitment to the inward journey – the practice of meditation.
The stream of life is filled with numberless and mysterious currents and crosscurrents, and after making some initial efforts to meditate and noticing a good degree of improvement, students may experience unconscious memories and habit patterns springing up from the depths of the unconscious mind. At this juncture, they cannot escape – nor is there a need to escape – from their own unconscious materials, their Sanskaras. Standing on the firm ground of Vairagya, non-attachment, and with the help of the systematic practice of meditation and contemplation, they can dive deep within, explore the subtle causes of habit patterns previously unknown to the conscious mind and return to the safety of that firm ground.
In this way they attain freedom from their Samskaras once and for all. The mind is free from all conscious and unconscious preoccupations. It is like a clear mirror. And in this mirror, Atman, is reflected spontaneously. The knower of truth, those who have completed the entire journey from beginning to end, divide life into three categories: mortal, semi-mortal, and immortal. The body, breath and conscious mind are the mortal part of the human being. At the other end of the spectrum is the soul, the inner Self, which is immortal. In between is the unconscious mind, which is semi-mortal or semi-immortal. The mortal part of our being goes through the constant change of death, decay, and destruction. It is born, and one day it dies. Whatever actions we perform through this mortal part of ourselves – physical, verbal, or mental – create impressions in the unconscious mind. They are stored there in the form of Samskaras and motivate our mind, senses, and body to undertake more actions.
This vicious cycle never ends unless we apply the techniques of spiritual discipline. This is because at the time of death, when the body and the conscious mind fall apart, human beings are still alive, dwelling in the unconscious mind. And the Sanskaras of unfulfilled desires force the unconscious to beg nature to provide them with a new body. And thus human beings go through the process of rebirth.
Once you attain freedom from the Sanskaras stored in the unconscious, semi-mortal part of your being, however, you realize that you are pure Atman, the eternal Self, which is not subject to either birth or death. Such a realized person is “immortal”.
Seeker: Then is seems that we must work with the subtle, motivating, powerful seeds that remain dormant in the unconscious mind. How, exactly, do we gain from these Sanskaras?
Swami Rama: Discipline is the answer – discipline with Vairagya. No matter which path you follow, no matter which practice you undergo, no matter which tradition you belong to, you need a disciplined mind. A confused mind is not fit to follow any path.
Whether you stay at home and pursue your Sadhana or renounce your home, you have to face your deep-rooted Samskaras. It takes a long time to get rid of them, so do not be disappointed when you cannot attain freedom during a month-long retreat. Have patience and keep working. Cleansing and replacing the contents of your mind is possible when you follow a systematic path of self-discipline.
Stay away from teachers and preachers who profess to teach spiritually and meditation without teaching discipline. No matter how sound their techniques, unless students are trained to become disciplined it is like sowing seeds in an untilled, barren field. All you really is to look at the totality of your life, set your priorities, and create a bridge between life within and without. Discipline is the bedrock under that bridge.
Seeker: Does one attain the highest goal, Self-Realization, through self-effort, God’s grace, or a combination of both?
Swami Rama: In the final analysis, Self-realization happens through God’s grace.
However, abandoning self-effort, especially in the early stage of the inward journey, is a big mistake. God’s grace is like rain that falls over a vast area without any regard for which particular areas will benefit from it. It rains on the unjust and the just as well. Even after it rains, land that is not permeable and cannot hold water, or land that is infertile or without seeds, remains barren. But a fertile land thrives where seeds have been sown and precautions have been taken to make the best use of the rainfall. Plants grow and flowers bloom. So it is with our own preparedness to receive grace, assimilate it, and benefit from it.
In yogic literature, receiving grace is known as receiving Shakti-pata. And this is possible when a student has gone through a period of discipline, austerity and spiritual practice. Shaktipata is the natural unfoldment of divine grace. In order to attain the highest realization, four types of grace have to converge on one point: Shastra Kripa, the grace of the scriptures, Atma Kripa, the grace of oneself, guru Kripa, the grace of the guru, and Ishvara Kripa, the grace of God.
Through Shastra Kripa, the grace of the scriptures, you gain an intellectual understanding of the higher dimensions of life, become inspired, gather courage to follow the path of light, and overcome your trivial concerns and doubts. The you need Atma Kripa, the grace of your Self, which takes the form of committing yourself to your practice. Sincerity, regularity, staying away from useless things and useless people, and being strong with one’s decision is Atma Kripa.
And once when you receive guru Kripa, which is totally unconditional (from the standpoint of the guru), Ishvara Kripa, the grace of God, follows automatically. In fact guru Kripa itself turns into God’s grace.
Behind this fourfold grace there is only one functioning force: Karuna, compassion, the unconditional love of the Divine for all individual souls. It is an internal and ever-flowing stream of divine compassion that manifests in the form of the fourfold grace and leads sincere seekers to the highest goal.
Seeker: If I study carefully and do my practices sincerely and faithfully, will I receive guidance directly from within? Or are instructions and guidance from a guru in human form necessary?
Swami Rama: You need an external guru in order to attain the guru within. If you do not have one, you may become egotistical, for example, and decide, ‘I do not need a guru’. That is ego talking. Or in your search, if you are not careful, you may become too intellectual and ignore your spontaneous intuition. Or you may become too emotional and ignore your reason. Both situations are equally dangerous. So you need a guru, a spiritual instructor who has attained realization while following the path that he or she is teaching you. Seeker: They say that it is not easy to find a Sadguru, a spiritual master. And without a real master, how is it possible to receive true guidance/ Swami Rama: A good student can never meet a bad guru, but the reverse is also true.
Similar attracts similar. If for some reason those who are dissimilar meet, the higher force intervenes and drives away those who are not prepared. Do not worry about who is good and who is bad. Increase you capacity. Purify yourself. Acquire the gentle strength within. God will come and say to you, ‘I want to enter this living temple that you are’. Prepare yourself for this situation. Remove the impurities, and you will find that those who want to know reality are themselves the source of reality.
Seeker: How Do Yogis View The Phenomenon Of Death?
Swami Rama: Death is a habit of the body, a necessary change. But while we are alive we don’t pay attention to the importance of knowing how to die at will, nor do we prepare ourselves psychologically for that moment. From the moment of birth we constantly tell ourselves that the objects o the world are real and that our happiness and completion depend on material possessions. But there comes a time when we notice that the material objects we have acquired are drastically changing and falling apart and that the same thing is happening with our relationships.
We are disappointed with life, and at the same time we become deeply attached to our children and possessions. As old age approaches we are lonely and afraid. We think that death will be painful – but in fact it is not death, it is the fear of death that creates misery for a dying person.
The brain has a limited capacity to sense physical pain, and at a certain point, it becomes oblivious to it. Thus, during death people do not suffer from physical pain as much as they experience psychological pain. S just as we have discovered ways to prepare the expectant mother to have a safe birth and minimize the pain during labour, we must learn the techniques of casting off the body without fear and pain.
Seeker: I was born and raised in a culture in which I was not exposed to meditation or any form of spiritual discipline, and I do not want to disturb my religious faith. Will this prevent me from advancing on the spiritual path?
Swami Rama: It doesn’t matter where you were born, or which denomination you belong to. As long as you realize the importance of having a healthy body and a balanced mind, you can start practicing those things which make sense to you. You don’t have to abandon your faith or embrace another one. Stay wherever you are. Do not disturb your family or your society.
Practice truth in thought, speech, and action. Love for truth will help you understand what your most urgent problem and concerns are. And soon you will notice that you are not interested in either hell or heaven – you simply want to be happy and peaceful.
In the early stages of your inward journey you begin to work with your body, for it is the tool for achieving both worldly and spiritual wealth. You should practice exercises that make your body healthy, whether you are Christian, Hindi, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist. Similarly, breathing exercises do not conflict with any religion.
You also need a system of gathering the power of your senses and withdrawing them from the external world. You must learn how to relax and provide maximum rest for your body, senses and nervous system so that your mind is free from the complaints of your body. This process does not require you to be born in any particular religious or cultural background.
Then comes concentration. At this stage of your inward journey you need to choose an object on which to focus your mind. Make sure that it is intrinsically peaceful and carries the least amount of sectarian baggage.
According to the sages of the Himalayas the best spiritual discipline is the one that helps you gather the means and resources for undertaking a spiritual practice. That is why they designed a holistic lifestyle, which in ancient times was called raja yoga. Simple principles of life – such as practicing non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation in sense activity, non-possessiveness, cleanliness, contentment, tapas (disciplining the body, mind, and senses), the study of genuine scriptures, and faith in a higher truth – are the foundation of holistic living. There are no religious, ethical, moral, or social schools in the world that do not honor these ten principles/
With the help of this simple practice of spirituality (which consists of these ten principles, plus physical exercise, breathing exercises, relaxation, concentration, and meditation) you automatically begin to overcome your doubt and scepticism. You know what you are doing and you know what is helping you. You will notice that your understanding of your religious faith, your family life, and your relationships have improved. You have become a more tolerant and loving human being. That is a great achievement itself.
Afterwards your mind and heart will tell you what should follow next. The [process of gradual transformation and unfoldment is healthy and long-lasting. Depending on your degree of emotional maturity and intellectual understanding, you will aspire to find a spiritual path that is perfect for you. There are many jackets in the market that are attractive and well made, but the best one is one that fits you. This is also the case with a spiritual path and spiritual disciplines.
All lead to the same goal, but the best path is the one that suits you. Manmade cultural and religious institutions need to follow the truth, not the other way around. Summary Chapter:
It may seem that the teachings of the sages differ from one another but these differences can be reconciled in one phrase “The truth is One, its faces are many”. In the beginning and intermediate stages of their spiritual unfoldment the sages may have had different experiences, but once they transcended the boundaries of time, space, and the causation and reached the highest state of Samadhi they all attained the experience of unitary consciousness, the absolute, non-dual Brahman. And as the ultimate truth revealed itself in all its brilliance and perfection, the sages came to know that that which lies outside us also exists within us. With this experience the knowledge of life here and hereafter, the knowledge of life here and hereafter, the knowledge of manifest and un-manifest, was no longer a mystery.
It was impossible, however, for the sages to communicate this experience to those whose consciousness was still confined to apparent reality. The sages have to find a way to bridge the gulf between their realization of unitary consciousness and the consciousness of ordinary people. So they communicated only the part of their experience that was relevant to the specific place and time in which they were teaching. And to do this they employed the language, symbols, and idioms that were in use at that place and time. Thus differences in the teachings are rooted not in differences in the ultimate experience but in how much of the experience the sages were able to share with their students and the idiom in which they communicated it. These differences in presentation aside, however, all sages speak with one voice when describing the way to attain inner unfoldment: “Be practical!”.
The sages stress the importance of finding out, at the outset of our journey, where we are in our personal evolution, what our pressing needs are, what our resources are, and how much freedom we have to do what we want to do. They all agree that the only way to minimize obstacles on the journey is to make an accurate assessment of our current situation, and then, once we have done this, to follow a systematic path.
First, we need to look at the broad picture of life. Like an iceberg floating in the ocean of cosmic existence, we see only a small portion of our life at any given time. Like little children, we are happy one moment, cranky the next. We are delighted with trivial matters and at the same time frustrated, disappointed, and depressed when we identify ourselves with them. Every pleasure and pain, success and failure, loss and gain affects us in one way or another, and we are tossed about by experiences which have little significance in the larger scheme of things.
We live in to different worlds and have no way of bridging the gulf between them. When we attempt to live in our inner world, we are distracted by worldly concerns. In our outer world, we forget our spiritual goals, and when we remember them we condemn ourselves for our forgetfulness. In the deepest part of our being, however, we know that true happiness comes only from the realization that we are free from the cycle of birth and death. And we know that that the greatest loss is to fail to reach that place before the body returns to dust.
The scriptures describe many Sadhana for overcoming this situation. Some can be followed as we keep ourselves active in the world. Some involve renouncing the world and all world concerns. But whatever path you follow, there are several key points to consider before you embark on the journey.
Start from Where You Are
Before you embark on any journey, you should be familiar with the map of your route and know exactly where you are on the map. How successful you are at reaching the nearest highway depends on how well you know your immediate locale as well as the surrounding terrain. On your spiritual journey, this means that you must know your temperament, your habit patterns, and your principal strengths and weaknesses before you commit to a spiritual practice.
Scrutinize the part of your life that troubles you the most – the fatigue brought on by your job, or anxiety over unpaid bills, for example. You will not be able to escape all your problems, but resolving them is as important as actually undertaking a practice. Most problems are the result of not fulfilling your worldly duties and obligations, but you will not have the freedom of mind to attend to your spiritual practice until you do. One of the biggest mistakes aspirants make is committing themselves to spiritual practices as a means of escaping from their duties, but if you shun your duties you will have committed yourself to Sadhana (spiritual practice) at a level you cannot sustain. This will be counterproductive in the long run.
You will also need to be familiar with your physical capacity. According to the scriptures, the body is the basic instrument for spiritual development. Physical vitality is the key to progressing on the path, but physical pain, disease, and occasional illness are facts of life; they cannot be ignored or dissolved by mere philosophy. So you must design a practice that does not aggravate your physical problems, and vice versa. Begin by working within the limits of your current capacity, and then work toward expanding it.
Choose A Path
Analyze your temperament and habits to determine your proclivities. This will enable you to choose a specific aspect of yoga for your main focus. If you are an intellectual, then Jnana yoga (the path of knowledge) will be the most effective for you. If you are emotional, you can transform your emotions into love and devotion and attain union with God by following the path of Bhakti yoga. If you are healthy and have little interest in studying the scriptures, sharpening your intellect, or purifying your emotions, then the path of Hatha yoga, under the guidance of a competent yogi, will be most fruitful. The path of karma yoga (the yoga of selfless action) is suitable for you if you enjoy doing things for others and sharing the fruit of your actions. And if your main interest lies in knowing yourself at every level and awakening the infinite and dormant forces within, then follow the path of Kundalini yoga.
Regardless of which path you choose, you must begin with a healthy body and a sound mind. For example, if you have a number of beautifully tailored jackets, but are so ill or in such a bad mood that you can’t leave your bedroom, these jackets are useless.
Similarly, if you know a great deal about spiritual practices and have been given practices by a competent teacher but have pain in your knees or are distracted by memories and hopes each time you sit to meditate, then these practices will have no effect.
Keeping your body and mind in good health requires following a routine of proper exercise, breathing practices, relaxation, and a systematic process of meditation.
Article source: newageislam.com
Dr Wayne Dyer has always believed in following your passionate life purpose. He himself took a big chance to find his life purpose when he left his tenured teaching position at St. John’s University in New York to spend his time pitching his first book—Your Erroneous Zones. Here’s the story of that risky move as he explains it in his memoir, I Can See Clearly Now:
My world has changed dramatically since I made the decision to go it alone as a self-employed writer. I have spent the past year working full-time to promote my first book for the general public, Your Erroneous Zones.
On a joint conference call with my agent, Artie Pine, and my editor, Paul Fargis, I am told that there are two pieces of news that are going to blow me away.
The first is that Your Erroneous Zones will appear on The New York Times bestseller list on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1977, as the number one best-selling book in the country. The second is equally exciting: Your Erroneous Zones has been put up for bid at an auction with all of the paperback publishing houses. The bidding has exceeded well over one million dollars, and Avon Books will be bringing this book out as their number one lead book for the fall of this year.
I have just been informed that I am the author of the number-one-selling book in the country, and I have also just become a millionaire as a bonus! I am over the moon with joy. I put the phone down in my little rented house on Long Island and put my head into my hands, and tears flow down my face.
I have been doing nothing but following my own vision and advancing confidently in the direction of my own dream and endeavouring to live the life I have imagined. It is what I read on the wall of the Thoreau Lyceum in Concord, Massachusetts when I visited and lay on the bed where Henry David Thoreau slept back in the 19th century. And this great teacher of mine, who guided me through so many roadblocks when I was back in high school, was so right.
I have met with a success totally unexpected in common hours. I am overcome with emotion.
I call my mother in Detroit to give her the news. She receives my news with the same sort of ecstatic shock that I’m feeling. She is sobbing with joy as she playfully reminds me that my book is such a huge success because she was the one who typed the manuscript before I gave it to the publisher. This beautiful woman—who sacrificed so much to get her broken family back together after being abandoned by my biological father, who worked every day of her life without complaint—is the mother of a millionaire author, who’s written the most popular book in America.
Before hanging up she says, “My son the doctor! I’m honestly not surprised, Wayne. You were always looking at the stars. I love you so much.”
I hang up the phone and say a profound prayer of gratitude for this enormous blessing that has arrived in my life.
I feel humbled by the fact that I have come from such scarce beginnings, and I pray for help in remaining unaffected in any egotistical way by all of this external bounty. I make a commitment to make certain that my two brothers and our mother will never be saddled with a mortgage payment.
What stands out most clearly to me today as I relive those glorious moments of achieving such exalted status in the publishing world is the biggest fear that I had inside of me. It concerned my ability to handle the financial uncertainty at the very beginning of my decision to leave the university and head out on my own.
I loved the feeling of freedom that was so nourishing to my soul; however, my head was filled with dread over money worries.
“What stands out most clearly to me today as I relive those glorious moments of achieving such exalted status in the publishing world is the biggest fear that I had inside of me.”
I grew up in an era of pretty severe poverty. My parents weathered the Great Depression and money was always a very big concern. I was weaned on a shortage mentality, and placed in foster homes largely because there simply wasn’t enough money to take care of the most basic of needs. My mother, who had three children by the time she was 24, worked first as a counter girl at a five-and-dime, and then as a secretary.
My father, who was jailed for stealing on more than one occasion, just abandoned his fatherly responsibilities and disappeared. I grew up working from the time I was nine years of age. Money was a big issue everywhere I lived. A lack of money and fear of monetary shortages—and remembrances of being hungry and not having enough food to eat—were imprinted on my subconscious mind rather emphatically.
Consequently, heading out on my own with a family to support at the age of 36, with no guaranteed income, was a monumental thing for me. I loved the idea of being my own boss, but I dreaded the thought of not being able to provide for my family and myself.
What feels much clearer to me now as I look back on this risky move is the importance of feeling the fear—acknowledging it rather than pretending it wasn’t there—and then doing what my heart and soul were telling me I had to do.
It was my willingness to align my body and its actions with my highest self, which could no longer handle living a lie.
“…heading out on my own with a family to support at the age of 36, with no guaranteed income, was a monumental thing for me. I loved the idea of being my own boss, but I dreaded the thought of not being able to provide for my family and myself.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer
As I travelled the country, and then the world, doing what I knew was my Divine purpose, everything began to fall into place.
When that conference call from Artie and Paul announced my new fiscal status as a millionaire with unlimited earning capacity, I realized a very important truth. It was spelt out by Patanjali some 2,300 or so years ago. This great spiritual master offered the kind of advice that spoke to me back there in 1977. He said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.” Then he added, “Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
I love this passage—especially the part about dormant forces. These are forces that we often think are dead and inaccessible, but he said they come alive to assist us when we are inspired by some great purpose and acting upon it. I realized I had a lot of worries and fears about money that I’d grown up with and lived with my whole life, and that they dominated much of my thinking. What Patanjali offered was true for me in a big way.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.” Then he added, “Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
As I followed my dream—stayed in-Spirit; that is, inspired—I made more money in the first year after I gave up my employment than I had made in the previous 35 years of my life.
Somehow I see it so clearly now: When we stay on purpose and steadfastly refuse to be discouraged, accepting our fears and doing it anyway, those seemingly dormant forces do come alive and show us that we are greater people than we ever dreamed ourselves to be.
We discover that we are one with our Source of being, and as Jesus put it so perfectly, “With God all things are possible.”
Article source: drwaynedyer.com
Author: Dr Wayne Dyer has written over 20 bestsellers on many spiritual topics, including making the shift to connect to Source, keeping the balance in your life, and transforming your life with the power of intention.
I chance upon a folded newspaper supplement in Mohanji’s house in Dharamshala. The image of an imposing soldier in blue dressed in full military gear catches my eye. I pick it up and hear Mohanji behind me, “Yes. Read the article. See the kind of personal stoic courage that can move mountains. Think of what a disciple can do with that inner power.” These words hook me and I devour the article quickly. It’s about one of the most famous Sikh generals, Banda Singh Bahadur and, particularly, his sordid and torturous end and how he faced it with stoicism and serenity (more on this later). I am left speechless. I read it a few more times and was in complete awe which, at the same time, was tinged with guilt.
I am amazed by stories of people – revolutionaries, spies, soldiers and, most importantly, saints and Masters – who have endured unspeakable pain and torture and yet stuck steadfastly to their higher purpose without yielding an inch from those lofty heights. I feel guilty of neither being endowed with that enduring faculty nor a purpose so self-consuming that even excruciating pain or torture cannot weaken the indomitable resolve to achieve and hold on to it. Masters take this concept to a completely different level. Unlike the rest who suffer from enemies, a Master is reviled and attacked by the very people that he helps. They go through the agony to show the world, through their sacrifice, an example of loving against all odds.
The story of Jesus immediately comes to mind. His life is described succinctly in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, “Nearly two thousand years ago, one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change.” Though he only wished for and worked to give the best to the society, his reward was humiliation, torture and the intense physical suffering of crucifixion. In response, his prayer for his tormentors was, “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing!” And he knew the power at his disposal for he said, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Twelve legions of angels could kick every Roman and Philistine ass a million times over and still not break a sweat. Then why go through it all? In his words, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me. But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? Not my will, but Yours be done.” He went through the ordeal to fulfil the purpose of his incarnation as ordained by the will of His Father.
Like Jesus, I’d like to share some of these stories of extreme courage and strength of character against all odds that have fascinated me over the years. I start with the story of the Sikh general, Banda Singh Bahadur. Born Lachman Dev, he was proficient in horse riding, martial arts, archery and hunting from a very young age. Having hunted a pregnant deer, he witnessed the writhing pain of her dying offsprings which impacted him so much that he left home to become a wandering ascetic. Known by the name of Madho Das, he became a powerful tantric (practitioner of occult arts) in a couple of decades, setup his ashram and had a huge following. He became arrogant and used his powers to insult saints and spiritually advanced souls.
Once Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last human Guru of Sikhism, along with his disciples reached the ashram of Madho Das while he was away. The Guru asked his disciples to slaughter a few goats and cook them over the ceremonial sacrificial fire in the ashram. Since the Guru was had his retinue, none of Madho Das’s disciples dared to interfere. When Madho Das returned, his disciples told him what transpired. Incensed at the sacrilege, Madho Das used all of his occult powers to attack the Guru. But nothing worked.
Crestfallen, he approached the Guru with due respect, knelt down and asked, “Who are you?” The Guru replied, “I am Guru Gobind Singh. Who are you?” With folded hands, Madho Das fell at the Guru’s feet asking for forgiveness and replied, “I am your banda (slave).” The Guru replied,” If you are a banda (also means good human being), act like one.” The Guru forgave him on the condition that he forsake his occult practices. Madho Singh was baptised by the Guru and named Gurbaksh (the one forgiven by the Guru) Singh. Yet, he became famous by the name that he gave himself – Banda Singh Bahadur (courageous). Banda stayed with the Guru for a few months imbibing as much as he could.
Guru Gobind Singh had hoped that the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, would fulfil his promise and end the persecution in Punjab and punish the Governor, Nawab Wazir Khan and his accomplices, for their crimes against common people including the deaths of his mother and his two young sons aged six and eight who were bricked alive. Finding him reluctant, the Guru appointed Banda Singh Bahadur as his military lieutenant and invested him with full political and military authority as his deputy to lead the campaign in the Punjab to end the Mughal tyranny there. Banda Singh Bahadur was given the Guru’s own sword, five gold tipped arrows from the Guru’s quiver, his battle drum, a letter of authority in the Guru’s handwriting as well as five of his trusted Sikhs to bear witness and attest to the Guru’s appointment of Banda as his nominee to lead the campaign in the Punjab.
En route to Punjab, Banda Singh Bahadur heard the news of Guru Gobind’s death due to injuries sustained in a failed assassination attempt by the Mughals. This steeled his resolve further. On reaching Punjab, he sent the Guru’s message to all the Sikhs around the land. In a short time, he amassed a cavalry of four thousand horsemen and an infantry of seven thousand soldiers which in time grew to an army of forty thousand. Under his able leadership, he attacked city after city, looted treasuries, punished the wicked nobility and formed a Sikh state managed by people of calibre. In the main battle of Chappar Chhiri, Banda defeated an army much superior to his own that was supported by professional artillery. He avenged the deaths of the Guru’s family by killing the much reviled governor, Wazir Khan. Thus, he shattered the belief of the invincibility of the Mughal empire.
He established a democratic rule in the Sikh state. He was an able administrator who introduced meritocracy in the government hierarchy. He did away with hereditary land grants and distributed the land among the peasants. Whatever was looted was shared among the soldiers and the needy which made him very popular among his subjects. He built forts, a mint and setup a strong administration and intelligence to manage the state. He dispensed quick justice and particularly ensured the death penalty for crimes against women.
His exploits drew the attention of the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, who immediately dispatched a large army and forced Banda Singh Bahadur and his Sikh army to retreat into the hills. On the death of the Mughal Emperor, there was a fight over succession among his sons for over a year. Banda Singh used the opportunity to reclaim most of the erstwhile Sikh state and ruled for a few years. Eventually, the new Mughal Emperor rallied all the forces in North India against the Sikh state with orders to take Banda Singh Bahadur dead or alive. After several battles, the Sikh army made a final stand at the mud fortress of Gurdas Nangal. Although the Sikh army initially inflicted heavy losses on the Mughals, reinforcements came in swiftly for the Mughal army and the Sikhs were outnumbered twenty five to one.
In spite of the huge force of a hundred thousand, the Mughals did not dare attack the fort to avoid heavy losses and, instead, laid siege to it, cutting off all supplies from the outside. There were rumors in the Mughal camp that Banda Singh Bahadur had magical powers and most commanders were afraid to face him in battle. Towards the end, a difference arose between Banda Singh and one of his trusted advisors. Banda Singh wanted to fight to the last man while the dissenters wanted to evacuate the fortress and live to fight another day.. When the differences grew beyond a point, Banda allowed the dissenters to leave. Banda’s army was now reduced to a fifth of its size. The dissenters led the charge at night and escaped from the fortress suffering many casualties.
For eight months, the Sikh garrison resisted the siege. The situation slowly became dire as rations were quickly used up. They survived on tree leaves, tree bark, their horses, bones, grass and leather and whatever they could get from raiding their besiegers at times. Many died of disease and hunger weakened the rest. Finally, the Mughals charged and captured the fort. Two hundred Sikhs were killed on the spot and Banda Singh and the rest of the Sikh army were taken prisoner. The governor felt that this number was too small a gift for the Emperor so he ordered the local chieftains to murder a few thousand Sikhs from the neighboring villages.
To terrorise the population, the Sikhs were brought to Delhi in a procession with around eight hundred Sikh prisoners, two thousand Sikh heads impaled on spears, and seven hundred cartloads of heads of slaughtered Sikhs. After a sham trial, the Sikh prisoners were given a choice to convert to Islam or die. Not a single one renounced his faith. They were executed in batches of hundred for over a week. Finally, it was the turn of Banda Singh Bahadur and his close confidantes. Banda Singh was dressed in mock clothes like an emperor, chained in an iron cage and paraded on an elephant. His close confidantes marched behind the elephant through the streets of Delhi in chains until they reached the city square. The confidantes were given the same choice – convert or die. They all chose death. All his confidantes were tortured and executed before his eyes. Their heads were placed in a circle around Banda Singh Bahadur who was now squatting on the ground in full view of the public.
The governor asked Banda Singh Bahadur why he was suffering this fate if he was a man of virtue. He replied, “God sends people like me to end tyranny. Being human, we sometimes overstep the laws of justice. For that, I am paying the penalty right here. God is not being unjust to me in any way.” Banda Singh Bahadur was given the option to convert or die. When he chose death, his five year old son was placed in front of him and he was given a dagger to kill him. He sat unperturbed. The executioner plunged the dagger into the young child and his still beating heart and entrails were thrust into Banda Singh Bahadur’s face and mouth. Banda Singh Bahadur sat through all of this calmly without a hint of emotion. The executioner then proceeded to gouge out his eyes, cut off his limbs one after another, take out his flesh with red hot pincers and finally sever his head. Until he became unconscious, Banda Singh Bahadur bore all this barbarism without any emotion or uttering a sound.
Thus ended the life of a great hero both in life and in death. His valor on the battlefield is far overshadowed by his conduct before his death. His belief in the purpose entrusted to him by his Guru became his raison d’être. His tormentors may have ravaged his body, but he vanquished them with the mettle of his spirit and the steel of his will. In his final moments more than in life did he set an example that made the world sit up and notice. Hundreds and thousands of Sikhs took up his mantle to end the tyranny of the Mughals and establish the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab.
Banda Singh Bahadur was a worldly man until the chance meeting with his Guru. In one fell swoop, the Guru decimated his pride and ego and made him realize his higher purpose. The Guru’s touch transformed the powerful tantric Madho Das who lived only for himself to Banda Singh Bahadur, a selfless incomparable warrior for justice. In a short while, the Guru left. But that brief association with the Guru was enough to spark that fiery sense of purpose that made him devote the rest of his life to achieve the Guru’s sankalpam (intent). And he set the world on fire with his actions and invincible spirit that inspired and will continue to inspire generations that followed.
It behooves us to focus our gaze inward and look at what drives us. What is our higher purpose? Are we wasting our life focussed on our self and our family, doing the usual – eat, work, sleep, procreate, survive and eventually die. Are we giving back to earth more than we are taking? Is our life purposeful adding value, in our own capacity, to the world we live in? Is the world a better place because we exist?
Let us awaken the Banda in us to live more than what we are living today, doing more than what we can do and being more than what we can be.
Article: Rajesh Kamath